Dear J.T. & Dale: What do you advise for someone who doesn't like working? I've never liked any of the jobs I've ever had. I have a good history of longevity with jobs, but I'm always unhappy. I'm almost 30, and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. - Mary
J.T.: I can relate - I didn't find my career path till I was 33! It took me that long to stop worrying about what others thought and start caring about what impressed me. You can do likewise by taking some time to consider your hobbies and interests. The things you like to do, play, watch and read offer excellent insight into your motivators. Working from that list, you can figure out how you could create a career path that would let you spend time doing what you find energizing.
Dale: Let me add another source of insight: people whose work you admire. For instance, you may envy the career of an architect you know, or that of a college professor. Even though you aren't qualified for either job, you can add the jobs to your list, and then search for common themes. These will help turn your hobbies-and-interests list into work-related goals.
J.T.: An example might help: Last year, I worked with a college senior to help him determine what to do after graduation. Like you, he honestly couldn't think of a single job. Nothing excited him. However, when I got him talking about what he did in his free time, he lit up as he shared his passion for fitness. He'd been a sickly child who grew up with an appreciation of the power of good health. So I suggested that he investigate becoming a personal trainer. He immediately quashed the idea, saying his parents wouldn't approve and that he needed something to make use of his business degree. Well, graduation came and went, and he was still a server in the same restaurant where he'd worked while in school. Recently, however, he decided to enter a certification program to become a physical trainer. The change in his thinking came when I got him to understand that it would be the first step in a career path - he is using his business degree to put together a plan to develop his business and eventually open his own club. He's completely energized about his future because he was able to connect the dots from what he loved and what he was good at to a career. We hope you'll do likewise, Mary, and let us know what you discover.